How to Hackathon: Socio-technical Tradeoffs in Brief, Intensive Collocation

Erik H. Trainer, Arun Kalyanasundaram, Chalalai Chaihirunkarn, James D. Herbsleb
2016 Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing - CSCW '16  
Hackathons are events where people who are not normally collocated converge for a few days to write code together. Hackathons, it seems, are everywhere. We know that longterm collocation helps advance technical work and facilitate enduring interpersonal relationships, but can similar benefits come from brief, hackathon-style collocation? How do participants spend their time preparing, working face-toface, and following through these brief encounters? Do the activities participants select
more » ... a tradeoff between the social and technical benefits of collocation? We present results from a multiple-case study that suggest the way that hackathon-style collocation advances technical work varies across technical domain, community structure, and expertise of participants. Building social ties, in contrast, seems relatively constant across hackathons. Results from different hackathon team formation strategies suggest a tradeoff between advancing technical work and building social ties. Our findings have implications for technology support that needs to be in place for hackathons and for understanding the role of brief interludes of collocation in loosely-coupled, geographically distributed work.
doi:10.1145/2818048.2819946 dblp:conf/cscw/TrainerKCH16 fatcat:fyb7ic6fpnhcxm4egkiioz33g4